1022 Chestnut Street
Helena, MT 59601
(406)449-2344 Fx: (406)449-2418
Disability Rights Montana provides information, education, advocacy, and legal representation to Montanans with disabilities to protect and expand their human, legal, and civil rights.
Montanans living with disabilities want to be included in everyday living and need access to appropriate support and services. DRM actively works to make local communities more physically accessible. DRM also advocates to bring support and services to your community and to protect your right to live, receive an education, work, and recreate in your local community.
How we help:
A. Montana Child Protective Services unlawfully removed a two week old infant son from his mother she is deaf and experiences a mental illness. CPS mistakenly determined her communication difficulties to be an intellectual disability and concluded mom “does not have the intellectual capacity, insight, and patience to safely and sufficiently meet the baby’s needs.”
In the 18 months following CPS’s discriminatory removal, Disability Rights Montana spent $46,723 in experts and legal fees in representing mom. In a very emotional reunion on November 8, 2016, baby who was 19 months was returned to his mother. “I am so grateful to the DRM staff. They never gave up on me. Because of them I have my son,” Mom tearfully exclaimed.
It is hard to comprehend that because mom is deaf and uses sign language to communicate the state would remove her baby and conclude she could not parent her child. Cases like these are exactly why Disability Rights Montana’s work is so important. It is our job to protect and advocate for human, civil, and legal rights of the nearly 147,000 of our neighbors, friends and family members with disabilities.
B. DRM received a call from a services provider informing us that a 33 years young man with difficulty swallowing was being placed in hospice care to die. The young man had aspiration pneumonia and the guardian determined he had already outlived his life expectancy and should be allowed to enjoy solid food which would most likely lead to his death. DRM immediately intervened with an emergency processing to challenge the guardian’s authority to make medical decisions that would lead to the young man’s death. The court agreed and appointed a new guardian. After working with the medical staff, the young man is now back in his group home and thriving. Again, it is hard to comprehend that people with disabilities lives are sometimes deemed less valuable and expendable. This case is another example why DRM’s services are so important.
C. DRM received a call from a parent of an adult child with a cognitive impairment who was working in a sheltered workshop in southeast Montana. The client was at risk for losing employment due to some disruptive, but not dangerous, behaviors. DRM staff helped the parent ask for a reasonable accommodation. The request prompted a meeting with the planning team to
discuss accommodations and other employment options for the client. The client has since moved into the community in a supported employment position several days a week and is also receiving accommodations for behavior at the sheltered workshop.